So I decided to re-read this book again. I just gotta say that I loved it as much as I did the first time. This book deals with a hard issue that some teens face which is self-mutilation or cutting.
The story is about a 15 year old girl names Katie. Katie is a figure skater and in the opening of the book she is training for her junior competition. Her goal is to be a Olympic skater. Naturally she has a lot of pressure to do well. Her mother is very pushy about her skating and is a classic crazy "sports" mom like the ones on T.V. shows today. To add to that Katie is going to a private school on a free tuition where she must maintain an average of at least a B+ in all her classes. Add to that watching her weight and her changing body, she is under a tremendous amount of pressure. All her free time is spent practicing skating. She wakes up at 5:00 am everyday to get to her skating lesson with her coach before school and after school she goes right back to the ice rink for more practicing. Not only does Katie have a lot of pressure to deal with she also has episodes of what she calls "spacing out" where her mind "leaves" her body and she is not in control of her body. To prevent these episodes from happening, Katie cuts herself when she feels the first symptoms of her "spacing out".
In this book we see Katie cut herself, have a huge breakdown episode in school which forces her to start seeing psychiatrist Dr. Sandy Sherman. The second half of the book is all about Katie going to therapy to get better. We get to see her in her therapy sessions and see her change from a girl who refuses to cooperate to a girl who genuinely wants to get better.
Katie is a wonderful character. In the beginning she is completely stressed out and terrified of her "spacing out" episodes. She is attempting to keep a hold on her busy life and on making her overbearing mother happy. She cuts to help herself deal with her emotions. She puts on a good front for the adult in her life in order to protect her secret. Katie is a loner who doesn't have any real friends because of her busy skating schedule so she is very often lonely with only her mother for company, which is not good because her mother is almost always angry at something. As the story moves along we see Katie at her worst where she is desperate to not be "crazy". When going to therapy she is very stubborn and won't acknowledge her problems and won't talk about them. As she goes to therapy and joins group therapy we see a change in Katie~ she opens up more to the group and to Dr. Sherman, she begins to form ties with the girls in her group and she changes to want to become better for good. Katie is a character where you can clearly see her change and grow as the story moves on and she has different experiences.
I also really liked Dr. Sandy Sherman. He is a great psychiatrist, who knows when to push Katie and when to back off. He genuinely cares about her and wants to help her get better. He is not about putting him patients on medication; he believes people can get better through therapy and only uses medication as a last resort. He is very kind, patient and hard working in helping Katie.
Katie's mother Katherine is a horror. She has huge anger issues and needs a lot of therapy herself. She is always mad at Katie for things and constantly yells at her. She pushes Katie to the max in terms of skating. Katie has to be the best at whatever cost. If Katie messes up a jump in practice its the end of the world to her mother. Her mother i s also a hothead and gets angry way too easily. All she thinks about is skating. She puts no value in school and actually wants Katie to drop out of school at 16, saying "what do you need with a high school diploma if your training with Miralen Laird?". I mean seriously! Come on lady. Her mother is also abusive. She has been physically abusive in the past and is verbally abusive to Katie in the present. Some of the things she says to Katie are harsh. She calls Katie stupid often, blames her for the way her life is, always claiming that Katie doesn't try hard at skating. She calls Katie's father a bastard and other names in front of Katie. She told Katie "Because you're crazy, I have to see a shrink". Katherine also refuses to admit that Katie has a problem and is against her going to therapy. She is also extremely manipulative and manipulates Katie to get what she wants. No wonder Katie has problems. Her mother needs therapy just as much as Katie does. I guess from my rant you can tell I extremely dislike the woman.
I like the way the way the book was written and the subject matter is very important for teens to know. The book talks through Katie about how it feel to cut and how it helps her. It's important for teens to know about this so they don't judge other people. The book also gives some signs on what to look for if someone is cutting but it also shows that the people who you least expect can still have problems. It shows that not everyone who cuts is some cookie cutout that fits the profile of a typical cutter. This book can help teens recognize symptoms or just inform them of what kids who do this behavior are feeling.
This review is also posted on Spantalian's Book Reviews